Cock Beck is a stream in the outlying areas of East Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, which runs from its source due to a runoff north-west of Whinmoor, skirting east of Swarcliffe and Manston (where a public house has been named 'The Cock Beck'), past Pendas Fields, Scholes, Barwick-in-Elmet, Aberford, Towton, Stutton, and Tadcaster, where it flows into the River Wharfe.
It is a tributary of the River Wharfe, and also known as the River Cock or Cock River. The name 'cock' refers to a mature salmon, as it was a spawning ground for salmon and trout. Industrial pollution reduced the fish stock, but it has been recovering in the 21st century, aided by work from the Environment Agency. In places the beck was relatively narrow, but too deep to cross unaided; a feature which can still be seen today at many points. John Ogilby's 1675 map indicates the major crossing for the Cock was sited along the Tadcaster-Ferrybridge road.
In the aftermath of the 1461 Battle of Towton remnants of the Lancastrian forces fleeing the victorious Yorkists were forced to try to cross the Cock Beck, having already disposed of most of their arms. Many drowned in the Beck, and soon the survivors were reported to be crossing the Cock Beck on bridges of their fallen comrades.
During the English Civil War, the Royalists defeated the Parliamentarians under Sir Thomas Fairfax at the Battle of Seacroft Moor in 1643. The ensuing massacre of the Parliamentarians is said to have been of such magnitude that the beck ran crimson with blood
- ^ a b "River cleared for returning salmon". BBC News. 18 December 2002. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- ^ Towton Battlefield Society (2007) Battle of Towton Map and Guide (3rd ed)
- ^ "Mediaeval Battles within the boundaries of Elmet". Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- ^ "The Battle of Towton 1461". Archived from the original on 12 October 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2014.